If You Suspect Substance Abuse
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, or if they are just being a teen. Teens are constantly changing so a change in their friends or dress might not mean a substance abuse problem. Instead, you can ask yourself are they withdrawing, showing signs of depression, doing well in school or taking part in activities they have always enjoyed. If they aren't, then you might need to look for other symptoms.
Physical Signs of Drug Use
- Changes in friends
- Lack of honesty
- Extreme fatigue or irregular amounts of energy
- Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school or declining grades
- Increased secrecy about possessions or activities
- Use of incense, room deodorant or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors
- Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded” language
- Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use
- Increase in borrowing money
- Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.
- Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories
- Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
- New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol
- Missing prescription drugs particularly narcotics and mood stabilizers
- Burn marks on the fingers
If you see these signs, it might be time to take a trip to your family medical professional and have your child screened for drug or alcohol use. Some of these signs may indicate another problem like depression, gang involvement or suicide that you should investigate as well.